The Way Back to Auckland

Let’s see if I can actually get this trip report done! I’m actually going to combine the two travel days into one because I didn’t take that many pictures and I honestly can’t remember it that well. 

29th April 

So on this day we were catching the evening ferry from Picton to Wellington meaning that we had a whole day to kill. One of our stops was in Havelock where, as usual, the scenery was amazing. 


Another place was Momorangi Bay where Burto said that you can sometimes find Stingrays. Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be any today, but it was still a nice, peaceful place to stop.


We went for a little walk in the hills surrounding Picton.


Then we still had some time until our ferry, so had a wander around Picton itself and got some dinner at a pub. 

The crossing itself was a bit rougher than on the way over, but it didn’t feel too bad to me. A few of the others were really feeling the effect though. I passed the time by watching Fantastic Beasts on my tablet. This was also when Burto came around with our final bill for the trip which included groceries and any additional activities booked during it. 

We got into Wellington at about 9 o clock and some of the group went out on the town. I however stayed cosy in the YHA. 

30th April

The next day started reasonably early as we had a looooong drive ahead of us. I don’t remember much of this day, except that we stopped every 2-3 hours for toilet/leg stretching breaks. 

I do remember stopping somewhere nice for lunch (as always) and that we had a quick break here:


There was also somewhere with a playground made up of loads of vegetables where we all posed with a giant carrot. 

I think it took us 10 hours to get back to Auckland. Once we had checked back in at the good old YHA we all met back up again and went to Ponsonby food court for dinner. I definitely recommend this place if you want a reasonably priced, tasty meal. 

There were some sad goodbyes after that as Burto was going home and Ashleigh was staying at Haka Lodge. The next day I would be flying to California to have 3 days in Disneyland before going home. 

Last thoughts: if anyone is thinking about going to New Zealand, my advice to you is: just go! And use Haka Tours. They’re perfect for solo travellers, first timers and just anyone who would like someone else to organise their trip for them. It takes away any worries about accommodation, public transport and how to get the best value excursions. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about this trip as much as I’ve enjoyed writing about it. Until next time! 

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Abel TasmanĀ 

Sorry for the delay in posts – I went to Disneyland on the way home and was just having too much fun to post  here. But without further ado – here is Abel Tasman. 

As had been forecasted we woke up to rain. Nothing torrential, just a steady downpour. Because of this part of the group decided not to participate in the hike, however thb rest of us waterproofed up and headed out. 

A bus took us down the road where we boarded a boat which would take us across to the national park. It was such a fun ride! The water was a bit choppy, but that just made it better in my opinion. We were taken out to see Split Apple Rock and a seal colony on the way too.



The last part of the trip was the best – the mad mile! The boat was going up waves and then dropping straight down. The rest of the passengers were looking at me like I was mad as I was laughing while they were white knuckling it.


The tide wasn’t as far out as usual when we got to the beach, so we had to wait for the right moment and then jump to avoid being ankle deep in the sea. Surprisingly I just about made it; I’m usually the one who would trip over and land face first. 

The hike was really good. It started with quite a big hill, but this was worth it for the views. That’s the great thing about New Zealand – you really feel like you’re in a different place. 


I was glad that I had brought proper trainers with me as the trail was muddy and slippery in places. There were so many waterfalls! 


During the descent we found some Wekas! Two parents and their babies! 

After we got out of the rainforest it was an easy walk back to the camp where leftover risotto and hot showers were calling our names. The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and then it was yummy food from The Fat Tui. The next two days would be spent making our way back to Auckland. 

Punakaiki to Abel Tasman

Sadly we had to leave our little slice of paradise, but we were going to the Abel Tasman, another beautiful part of New Zealand.

On the way we stopped at Cape Foulwind and had another little hike. 


On the way we passed one of those great signposts that tell you how far you are from everywhere else.


But our main reason for visiting Foulwind was the Fur Seal colony. There were so many pups flumping about! 


Sadly I cannot remember if/where else we stopped after and I don’t have any pictures to help either. I do know we stopped at a supermarket. 

For the next two nights we were staying at The Barn campground in Marahau, which is right outside the Abel Tasman national park. They offer inside accommodation as well as camping. 

That night we made chicken risotto with our roast leftovers from the day before and it was yummy. Burto warned us that it was supposed to be raining the next day (which was great considering we were all going on a 12k hike through the national park!) but we had been so lucky with the South Island weather that we didn’t mind too much.

PunakaikiĀ 

We had a nice late breakfast of French toast with banana and bacon before going to see the main attractions of Punakaiki:


You can only really see the blowholes at high tide and they were pretty cool. 


Then five of us went on a hike and the others were kayaking and relaxing. We ended up adding a bit extra onto our walk, because we missed a turning and ended up going for a while in the wrong direction. We only realised when we got to a bit of a chasm, the deep muddy puddles should have been an indication too. Still the scenery was nice.

We were lucky enough to see this little guy! Wide awake and staring at us too.


When we got towards the end of the trail we met Burto coming to find us. He was quite perturbed as to how we got lost! Back at the house we had shepherds pie cooked by Burto and it was just what we needed. The rest of the day was spent chilling out and then seeing a better sunset.


Dinner was a massive roast, followed by an earlyish night as we were driving to Abel Tasman the next day.

Franz Josef to Punakaiki

Sorry for the lack of posts guys, we were in an area of poor wifi and service. 

Our first stop on the way to Punakaiki was Lake Mapourika which is absolutely beautiful. 


Then we were on to Hokitita, where we went to Mountain Jade – a factory and shop. This was also our lunch stop and as it was Armistice Day we got to see the parade. 

Unfortunately our next stop was to drop off a large portion of our group at the train station. They would be getting the alpine express back to Christchurch. 

Whilst in the area we also did a big shop as Punakaiki doesn’t really have anything nearby. Then it was the last leg of our drive. We were staying at the Te Nikau Retreat in our own house, deep in the rainforest.


Two people had their own rooms and the rest of us were up on the top floor. It was lovely to have our own space and kitchen and the beach was only a few minutes walk away. We tried to catch the sunset, but it was a bit too overcast to see anything.


Still impressive though. The waves were massive! That night we had a big spag bol and played a game together. 

Franz Josef

The first activity in Franz was stone carving at Te Koha gallery with Panda. This was more in depth than the bone carving on the North Island as we were starting from the very beginning, choosing a stone and going from there, but we still had a LOT of help. We could either carve pounamu (greenstone) or Aotea (bluestone). You choose the design you want to carve and then the stone which appeals to you. I chose Aotea and the Ruru or Morepork owl.


This stone is rare as you can only find it in one area of New Zealand. It’s a unique mix of Kyanite and Fuchsite and is a healing stone supposedly good for stomach and sleep problems. The Ruru is a native New Zealand bird that the Maori say is a night guardian. If one crosses your path it is a warning to turn back. 

Panda used a saw to cut my stone to a better size and then I drew my design on.


He then cut ‘the guts’ of the shape for me and then I had to use a sanding machine with diamond paper to work all of the rough edges down. Then the proper hard work began. We had to use four different pieces of sandpaper to work on the shape, rubbing as hard as we could to get the shine. Then once that was done, Panda carved the features on for me. 


I love it so much and have been wearing it every day alongside my fish hook.

After carving me and Gwen had to run for the shuttle that would take us to the glacier walk. This is and hour and a half round trip that took us as close as possible. 

It was a nice walk, though it got quite hot, ironically, the closer we got to the glacier. 

*no picture here because WordPress is playing up and not letting me upload any more* 

We then took the shuttle back into town and visited the Kiwi Wildlife Centre. There were two 9 week old Kiwis in there who were going to be released into the wild when old enough. They are nocturnal so they had low red lights so we could see them as they can’t see red lights. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in there but they were adorable, 

After that we hung out back at the hostel until 7, when it was time for dinner. Burto had only gone and hired a limo to take us! The funny thing was it was only 5 minutes down the road but we still appreciated it! We went to the Blue Ice Bar and ate delicious food, played on the wii and sung kareoke. Well the others did, people pay me not to sing so I decided it was best I sat that one out. It was a great evening. 

Wanaka to Franz Josef

Sunday had a leisurely start as most of us were going cycling at 10. Burto had made the ride sound like an easy trip around the lake, however it soon became apparent that it was going to be very tough. On account of the fact that I haven’t been on a bike for years I decided to turn back with Burto’s mum who has a bad knee and go for a more gentle ride. So we went back down to the waterfront, had a coffee and then took the easy, but scenic route around the lake. 


When we got back to the hire place Burto was already back and the rest were coming in. We ate some lunch and then hit the road. It’s about a 5 hour drive to Franz Josef and we would be having a few stops along the way. 


This stop was a place called The Neck. Beautiful blue water and sky. We drove through Mount Aspiring National Park and had a brief stop here too. 


The foliage was turning to rainforest as we got closer to the west coast. We drove over a bridge with this gorgeous reflection that I managed to catch out of the bus window. 


Our next stop was a beach, but the sand flies were terrible because it’s mild so we didn’t stay long. The sun was starting to set, giving the road a very Jurassic Park style look.


We stopped at Bruce Bay for the sunset. This is where you can sometimes find Pounami (greenstone) and Aotea (bluestone) but we weren’t lucky enough. It was beautiful though.


There were some cool stones too.


After that it was an hour long drive to Franz Josef where we’re staying in another YHA. It was already late when we got there so a group of us went out for dinner almost straight away. Monday is a full day in Franz Josef and the last night for the people on the 17 and 7 day tours. 

Queenstown to Wanaka

Saturday started with a bit of a hitch as myself and three others in the group were booked for a morning Lord of the Rings tour and the company was 1/2 hour late. It turned out that they had made a mistake with our booking, but it ended up being ok and we were whisked off to meet our guide. We were with a company called Paradise Tours and our driver was Badger, originally from Reading. He was absolutely brilliant and had loads of knowledge about the films, books and history of the area we were in.  

Our first stop was by the edge of the lake where we could see Mount Ben in the distance. This is where the fellowship go when Sauroman sends the snowstorm. 


Fun fact: as ‘poor old Bill’ the pony could not be transported up here by helicopter, the horse you see in those shots is actually two people in a sophisticated horse costume. Also, the second time Sean Bean went up there he refused to go by helicopter so had to drive and then climb it. 

We had a short bathroom break in Glenorchy, which is a very small but cute town between Queenstown and Paradise. Our next stop was here:


Used for Isengard and also a scene on Wolverine where he blows up the helicopter. Looking at it from a different angle:


This is where Beorn’s house stood in The Hobbit. It was really built there, not just CGI.

Our third stop was for morning tea in Lothlorien.


Also the forest where Boromir is killed and Merry and Pippin lead the orcs away from Frodo and Sam. The floor is covered in golden leaves, exactly as described in the book. However this wasn’t enough for Peter Jackson – he brought in hundreds of fake gold leaves to scatter. Brilliant attention to detail, but as the area is part of a conservation project it meant that they had to pick up all of the fake leaves by hand. 


After this we had one more stop on the way back. We had a short bush walk in some beautiful surroundings.


This took us to the place where Sam and Gollum have their argument about potatoes and the best way to eat rabbits.


Which is on the same ledge that they all look out at the elephants from. 


The tour was a great experience, Badger was a great guide and the whole thing was really interesting. When we were dropped off in town we went and had a snack at the same place we had eaten breakfast the day before.


After that it was time to meet up with the rest of the group and go up the gondola and luging! This was so much fun! Mountain bikers go up to the top and cycle down which is just mad and you can also bungy jump from there. It has a great view too:


We got 2 goes on the luge for $15 and it was worth every one! 


After luging we drove the short distance to Arrowtown. This is an adorable old mining town where they’ve maintained the facade of the buildings. It also has beautiful autumn colours and an original Chinese settlement.


After Arrowtown we stopped for a viewpoint picture in the mountains.


We arrived in Wanaka just as the sun was setting which made for some perfect lake pictures.


For dinner four of us split a cooked chicken and some salad, then started watching Return of the King. Just another day in paradise! 

Friday in Queenstown

I had a lazy start to Friday as I had no activities booked, so myself and two other girls on the tour had a lie in followed by a late breakfast. We ate in Cafe Vudu which seems to specialise in vegan, vegetarian and gluten free food. The two of them had overnight oats and I had some yummy sourdough toast. 

After this we did the lakefront walk which was beautiful, especially with the amazing weather we’ve been having. 
It starts off right on the waterfront where we saw all the cool activities going on, including trips in a shark shaped boat which was doing all kinds of tricks. People had attached their padlocks to the pier too. 


We continued into a woodland area that was just as picturesque. Lots of other people were doing the same walk as us and everyone was taking lots of pictures. 


When we looped back towards the city centre the path took us through the gardens before leaving us back near our hostel. 


Next we had a walk around the main streets which are full of cool shops and restaurants. The girls had to go to their horse riding activity so I carried on exploring before meeting up with a couple of the others at our hostel. We tried to play frisbee golf, but lost one frisbee in the bamboo at the first hole. 


We quickly decided that ice cream was a better idea and luckily there is a shop right next to the hostel. I had strawberries and cream and banana split flavour. 

In the evening I did some laundry and then we ate Devil Burgers while watching Hot Fuzz in the TV lounge. We decided that Fergburger had too long a queue and although I’m sure it is very good, our Devil Burgers were delicious and only had a 20 minute wait. 

We went to bed earlyish because we all had early pick ups on Saturday morning – Emily to go canyoning and me, Katerina and Sophie for our Lord of the Rings tour.